I wrote a reflection recently on how I live with others, which was essentially about navigating the many webs of relationships in my life for optimal mental health and well-being. Living with bipolar disorder means that I need to remain vigilant to the potentially severe changes and challenges of mood which are characteristic of the illness. However, I want to shift the focus to how others live with me for this blogpost. I include here a number of reflections from important people in my life and I respond to each while being mindful of their needs. I am sincerely grateful to them for agreeing to publish their comments which I hope will resonate with readers.
“There was only one time when you were different than usual over the past year. You were talking very quickly and loudly, and we were both concerned. But you were still able to express yourself. We checked in with you on that occasion and you were fine the next day. As far as your low mood is concerned, we don’t notice anything unusual about it.” Continue reading
I met with a meditation group called Deeper Space on Sunday, 4 November in the town of Newbridge, County Kildare, just an hour from Dublin city. We, an intimate group of three, finally settled down for a cup of tea in a local café after a spot of lunch elsewhere and a walk along the river.
Over the last year or so we have tried to create a ‘deeper space’ at different places by reflecting on themes such as living in the now, sacredness and intuition. We paused for a few minutes of silence and shared our thoughts and feelings with each other. Recently, we thought it would be good to try something new. Tea or coffee drinking had always been part of our meetings, so why not simply meet for tea – a daily ritual – and make this our meditation? Continue reading
While my mind is often filled with noise in the form of thoughts and feelings, silence is no longer threatening to me. When my mind calms down, I experience a soft sound that draws me into greater depth and meaning. I no longer perceive the voice of ‘God’ as harsh, annoying and judgemental, but kind, peaceful and loving.
An inner hunger
On a whim of inspiration, I booked myself into a Zen Buddhist retreat last weekend in Dublin. I knew little to nothing about it, but my inner being was hungry for something ‘more’. It consisted of hours of silent, sitting meditation interspersed with silent, walking meditation. My legs and back ached as I tried to find the ‘sweet spot’ in sitting. I tried a sort of knee sitting, cross-legged sitting and chair sitting. Continue reading
When I rush, I scratch my watch, I break its strap, I knock into another person’s shopping, I talk too quickly, I hinder my breathing…
For a person like myself who desires a contemplative lifestyle, I have to laugh at such rushing. I used to be struck by people who would comment on the intentions of mental health professionals – saying they were doing their jobs for their own purposes. “I became a psychiatrist because I was looking for a cure for myself,” said my uncle. Perhaps I want to become a contemplative for similar reasons.
The contemplative way
I am not that different from others. I have my own motives for doing things. I meditate because it keeps me sane. I pace myself with work tasks for it maintains my energy and direction. I unwind at night with a book because it helps me to sleep. I have the same basic needs as others. Continue reading
As I arrived home in Dublin after my holiday in Canada, I got an abrupt reminder that people have the potential to pull me down and take away my happiness.
A taxi-man who mutters
Right outside the airport, a taxi driver muttered and frowned when I gave him directions to my house. After 17 hours of travel, it caught me off guard for a moment. I asserted that I was perhaps better off getting another taxi, but in the end I took the lift. He muttered something again, and I gave him a short response and stayed quiet. On the road, I suddenly smiled with the realisation that the interaction didn’t have to ruin my day. We chatted for a little bit after a while and departed with less tension. Continue reading
I could not quite believe my eyes as I checked my master’s degree results online, just before I returned home to Ireland on my holiday in Canada. The college website read, “First Class Honours”.
I first shared the news with my cousin’s partner who responded by giving me a hug and declaring that my act of faith beared fruit – that is, I believed if I put the effort and time into the Applied Spirituality programme that something good would come from it. I then told my cousin the news and got another warm embrace.
The long road
This positive result meant so much to me because I was keenly aware of how hard I worked over a number of years to make it happen. I was originally accepted onto the programme in 2013, but I had to decline a place due to my poor mental health. I had plenty of ambition back then, but I needed to be patient with my condition. Continue reading
As I reviewed the statistics on my blog with regard the number of readers and the popularity of blog posts, I came to realise that the theme of relationships is particularly important for living with bipolar. I also know this to be true for myself as I often spend a lot of energy connecting the many webs of relationships in my life. With this in mind, I explore how I live with others in this blog post, and I will write about how others live with me at a later date. I hope that this focus will help people with bipolar and those who live with them (and indeed others) to experience ‘balanced mood for a balanced life’.
Letting go of my agenda
On the one hand, it is good for me to share my mental health condition with my family and friends, for example, when a medication change adversely affects my sleep. On the other hand, it is not good to overburden them with my pressing issues and concerns. They may not be ready to hear my story due to their own emotional needs, etc. However, there is usually someone available to help carry my cross; I usually decide to contact a person who actually wants to hear from me. I am rarely left to my own devices. When I express myself fully with this person and breathe a sigh of relief, I try not to ruminate over my problems – a never ending cycle of negative thinking that gets me nowhere. Continue reading